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It's bread; it's simple, right?

 
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mtarnowski



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 5:27 pm    Post subject: It's bread; it's simple, right? Reply with quote

I've been trying to bake a decent loaf of bread for going on half a century now. I've followed the advice of Julia Child, James Beard, Rombauer and Becker, New York Times, even poor old Adele Davis, and of course, all the new guys and gals on T.V. My results are occasionally edible, but more often they are not. I buy good flours and fresh yeasts; I control the temperature (south Florida is always warm); I sift and measure, measure and sift; I proof the yeast; I monitor the texture; I kneed like there's no tomorrow. Oven temps are perfect by three thermometers. The dough always looks great going in (hope springs eternal) but by the time the nicely risen, beautifully formed loaf bakes, it usually collapses into a thick brick. Oh, what I wouldn't give to be able to reliably produce a couple of loaves of nice white or light whole wheat a week! All suggestions most welcome. Thanks in advance, Marilyn
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LAN3
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2006 12:33 am    Post subject: Tricky Reply with quote

Somehow the air's getting out of your bread, and the gluten is supposed to keep it in. Could also be that over-rapid cooling of bread is causing it to drop-- maybe use the oven door to drop the temperature gradually, say 100-150 degrees at a time?

Since you're in the southern US, your general AP flour is going to be softer than most unless you're getting a national brand, but at any rate, you'll want to go with bread-flour. Buy a scale and measure by weight-- a cup of flour can weigh 4-6 ounces, a 50% variation! Find recipes accordingly.

A couple of tricks to play with that I've heard of by not yet tried-- adding a teaspoon or so of powdered milk to the dry ingredients in order to add protein might help, and another one for making light breads is to add an autolyse step. As soon as you've gotten all the flour wet, cover the dough and put it aside for 20-30 minutes. The French do this religiously, by all accounts, while others don't find value in it. *shrug* It's not a rise, but evidently the proteins that combine to form gluten require water to do so, and this gives them a chance to get ahold of some. Start kneeding after this.

Gluten development is primarily in the kneading, so if you're not sure of your ability (or your mixer's ability) to knead correctly, head to your local small-time pizza shop or bakery, buy a slice or a Danish, and sit where you can watch the cooks knead the dough. Watch for technique and watch the texture (how wet, how smooth, how sticky, how stretchy). Ask questions if they're not busy. You've probably read about the windowpane test-- I don't think I've ever managed that, but I've made a couple good loaves and crusts. The best I can tell you is that, when the dough is firm enough that it doesn't try at all to settle into a puddle, you're there or nearly so.

Last thing I'd advise is that you throw some icecubes into your oven when you get the bread in-- the steam will encourage a firmer crust on the top, which might help the bread hold its inflated shape. Sometimes recipes call for spraying the dough with water while it's baking to get the same effect, a harder "rustic" crust, but I don't like to open the oven door during baking, so I suggest a big handful of ice in large cubes.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have you ever added additional gluten to your dough? Since I make whole wheat bread most of the time, and load it up with seeds & things, I always add vital wheat gluten. My recipe makes three large loaves and I add 1/2 cup of gluten to the dough along with the flour. And don't let the loaves rise too much - "double in bulk" means exactly that. If I forget to check and my loaves rise too high, they usually collapse, just like you've described.

This is a recipe I've developed over the years, beginning when my kids were young and somewhat "selective" eaters, so I packed all the nutrition I could into a slice of bread . . .

http://bread.allrecipes.com/az/WestrupWholeWheatBread.asp

(yes, I am Shannon Westrup, and I have since made the addition of 1/2 cup of King Arthur Flour's Harvest Blend, which adds some real pizazz to these loaves. Harvest Blend is a mixture of whole oat berries, millet, rye flakes & wheat flakes, flax, poppy, sesame & sunflower seeds)
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mtarnowski



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2006 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thank you, both! You've each given me a new set of ideas to work with. I'll let you know the results!
Best regards.
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Analyticman



Joined: 05 May 2006
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 1:08 pm    Post subject: Maybe you're overdoing it? Reply with quote

It sounds to me like either you might be letting the dough ferment too long, or you might be over-=working it in the kneading process. I've made lots of bread, and with regular flour (or bread flour) and never had this problem.

Or maybe your dough is too soft? Try using a bit less water.
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Thor



Joined: 24 Jul 2006
Posts: 112
Location: Camp Hill, PA

PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2006 7:55 pm    Post subject: Ye Hath Risen Too Far Reply with quote

I agree. It sounds like you are giving your dough a little too much love. You may be letting your dough rise too long, or it's too hot where you are letting it rise so it's rising too fast. It is also possible you are over kneading, which is hard to do if you are kneading by hand, but not hard to do if using a machine.

Check out http://www.baking911.com/bread/problems.htm for some more problems and solutions regarding baked breads. It also mentions salt deficiency as a possible reason for your problem. It's an excellent website for bread baking.

Also, make sure you are using regular yeast, not rapid rise.


Last edited by Thor on Mon Jul 31, 2006 7:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Thor



Joined: 24 Jul 2006
Posts: 112
Location: Camp Hill, PA

PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2006 8:30 pm    Post subject: Yeast vs Salt Reply with quote

My curiosity got the better of me. I don't think salt is the problem, but a salt shortage could cause the fallen loaf prblem.

Compliments of baking911.com:

Salt in a yeast bread recipe moderates (slows) the action of yeast and allows it to produce carbon dioxide at a reasonable rate, resulting in a finer textured bread with small to medium air cells. This in turn allows for the flavor of the yeast to develop, as well as enhancing it.
Omitting or reducing the amount of salt in yeast dough can cause the dough to rise too quickly, adversely affecting the shape and flavor of bread, as well -- breads without salt tend to have paler crusts and a flat, dull taste.

Salt also adds structure to the dough by strengthening the gluten, which keeps the carbon dioxide bubbles from expanding too rapidly.
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jjjeep4@cox.net
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 7:42 pm    Post subject: Bread......... Reply with quote

Kudos to you on the bread attempts.....I am able to make great bread 2-3 days a week despite being a single parent of 2 boys and working full time....the absolute best thing that I purchased was a 3 piece baking pan called a steam baker...(bought it on ebay for 10 dollars new)....a bit of water goes in the bottom....

I also use my kitchenaid-the recipe is included with the pan, but I use fast rise/instant yeast (available at sams for abot 4 dollars/pound)....I mix as directed, let rise about 10 min then form it as directed making only one thick loaf instead of 2 sm ones...and score it...put it in the pan as directed, let raise 10 min and place in cold oven and turn to 425 degrees for 36-38 min total....I guarantee that it will be some of the best hot crusty bread.....let me know if you end up trying this.....I am new to the site....thanks...J.
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moonwolf23
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2006 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
Have you ever added additional gluten to your dough? Since I make whole wheat bread most of the time, and load it up with seeds & things, I always add vital wheat gluten. My recipe makes three large loaves and I add 1/2 cup of gluten to the dough along with the flour. And don't let the loaves rise too much - "double in bulk" means exactly that. If I forget to check and my loaves rise too high, they usually collapse, just like you've described.

This is a recipe I've developed over the years, beginning when my kids were young and somewhat "selective" eaters, so I packed all the nutrition I could into a slice of bread . . .

http://bread.allrecipes.com/az/WestrupWholeWheatBread.asp

(yes, I am Shannon Westrup, and I have since made the addition of 1/2 cup of King Arthur Flour's Harvest Blend, which adds some real pizazz to these loaves. Harvest Blend is a mixture of whole oat berries, millet, rye flakes & wheat flakes, flax, poppy, sesame & sunflower seeds)


You might get more bang for your buck by using spelt. IT's a soft whole wheat flour. I've used it in baking by itself and it's wonderful.
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